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On Manly Courage: A Study of Plato's Laches
Schmid offers the first original interpretation of the "Laches "since Hermann Bonitz in th Schmid divides the book into five main discussions: the historical background of the dialogue; the relation of form and content in a Platonic dialogue and specific structural and aesthetic features of the "Laches; "the first half of the dialogue, which introduces the characters and considers the theme of the education of young men; the inquiry with Laches, which examines the traditional Greek conception of military courage; and the inquiry with Nicias in which two nontraditional conceptions of courage are mooted, one closely associated with the sophistic movement in Athens, the other with Socrates himself.
Furnishing a detailed paragraph-by-paragraph reading that traces Socrates ongoing quest for virtue and wisdoma wisdom founded in the action of a whole human lifeSchmid conclusively shows how and why the "Laches "fills an important niche in Plato s moral theory. Its function is at least In part to provide opportunities for these four representatives of the traditional concepti?
Much of the discussion frr cuses upon the element of knowledge-of reasoned , nuanced responsiveness to the detailed circumstances for action-that on reflection Laches and Nicias both agree is an essential,. It is because of thIS that N! Nicias , indeed , wanls to define courage simply as a kind of wisdom-wisdom about what is to be feared and whal , on the contrary, to be buoyed up by and made hopebll as one pursues one 's objectives.
Plato's Laches - Selections - Comments
Here, however, Lac hes whether this was a genu inely 'Soc rat ic' idea or not , h e and the two general s find difficulti es in it that they seem t o see no immediate way to resolve, and the discu ssion breaks off. Now there are some people who make fun of frankness and if anyone asks their advice, they don't say what they think, b but they make a shot at what the other man would like to hear and say something different from their own opinion.
But you we considered capa- ble not only of forming a judgment but also , having formed one, of saying e x actly what you think , and this is why we have taken you into our confidence about what we are going to communicate to you. Now the matter about which I have been making such a long preamble is this: we have these two sons here-this one is the son of my friend Melesias here, and he is called Thucydides after his grandfather, and this one is my son, who also goes by his grandfather'S name-we call him Aristides after my father.
We have made up our minds to take as good care of them as we possibly can and not to behave like most parents , who , when their children start to grow up, permit them to do whatever they wish. No, we think that now is the time to make a real beginning, so far as we can. Since we b knew that both of you had sons too, we thought that you, if anyone, would have been concerned about the sort of training that would make the best men of them. And if by any chance you have not turn ed your attention to this kind of thing very often, let us remind you that you ought not to neglect it, and let us invite you to care for your sons along with ours.
How we reached this conclusion , Nicias and Laches , you must hear, even if it means my talking a bit longer. Now you must know that Melesias and I c take our meals together , and the boys eat with us. We shall be frank with you, exactly as I said in the beginning: each of us has a great many fine things to say to the young men about his own father, things they achieved both in war and in peace in their management of the affairs both of their allies and of the city here. But neither of us has a word to say about his own accompliShments. This is what shames us in front of them, and we d blame our fathers for allowing us to take things easy when we were growing up , while they were busy with other people 's affairs.
And we point these same things out to th e young people here, saying that if they are careless of themselves and disobedient to us, they will turn out to be nobodies , but if they take pains , perhaps they may become worthy of the Translated by Rosamond Kent Sprague. Somebody suggested this form of instruction to us, saying that it would be a fine thing for a young man to learn fighting in armor.
And he praised this particular man whom you have just seen giving a display and proceeded to encourage us to see him. So we thought we ought to go to see the man and to take you with us, not only as fellow spectators but also as fellow counsellors and partners , if you should be willing, in the care of our sons. This is what we wanted to share with you. So now is the time for you to give us your advice , not only about this form of instruction-whether you think it should be learned or not-but also about any other sort of study or pursuit for a young man which you admire.
Tell uS too, what part you will take in our joint enterprise. And I think Laches here is ready too. As for what Lysimachus said just now about his father and Melesias ' father , I think that what he said applied very well to them and to us and to everyone engaged in public affairs, because this is pretty generally what happens to them-that they neglect their private affairs, children as well as everything else, and manage them c carelessly. Walter T. Schmid ; foreword by George Kimball Plochmann.
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Philosophical explorations. The Laches of Plato presents Socrates' examination of courage andreia , in company with two Athenian generals, Nicias who says that it is knowledge and teachable, and Laches who says that it is character, a sense of shame and pride, and so not knowledge nor teachable. Socrates himself seems to think that it, and all virtue, is knowledge and learned but not taught.
Journal of the History of Philosophy
Schmid Univ. He also draws on the poetry of Homer, the lampoons of Aristophanes, and the historical accounts of Thucydides and Plutarch to clarify the education and the deeds and contemporary reputations of these men, as well as on modern discussions of courage. This careful and much needed study belongs in all collections in Plato and moral psychology, along with, e. Extensive endnotes, bibliography, and index.
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